What Can I Sell? 5 Questions to Help You Brainstorm Ideas

Young woman looks through clothes to sell.

Wondering what to sell online? Think about not just what you have, but about what will be in demand.

Coming up with a good idea is often the most difficult when you have limitless options, and when it comes to selling items online, your choices are endless. Although it might be tempting to say you’ll figure out your product line as you’re going along, you shouldn’t start an online store without a good idea of what you’re going to sell; lack of focus has been the death of many an online retail business.

If you’ve found yourself asking, “What can I sell?”, try asking yourself these more specific questions to help you brainstorm ideas.

What is in demand? You most likely already know the drill with supply and demand: your product is going to be much more profitable if there’s a high demand for it than if the market is already saturated. Look for a niche market whose needs aren’t being met yet. However, be wary of items that are trendy now but may fade from popularity in a few months.

What will appeal to my target market? A large part of deciding what you want to sell is deciding who you want to sell to. For example, let’s say you think you might be interested in selling clothing. That’s a pretty broad category, so you need to decide what kind of clothes you want to sell  and to whom. Women’s clothing is the top-selling retail category, so that might be a good place to start.

What will it cost to make or sell my product? Don’t let your product just be a labor of love. If the price to manufacture it (including the cost of materials and your time) is higher than the price consumers are willing to pay for it, then it’s not worth it.

Will customers reorder my product? There are plenty of businesses that have succeeded by selling items that consumers buy less frequently, like appliances or designer sunglasses, but you may have better luck with a product that consumers will use up and then need more of, like hand lotion or specialty granola bars. Selling this kind of reoccurring product will make it easier to establish a loyal customer base.

Will this product allow me to grow my business? Ask yourself if there are other items related to your product that customers might be interested in (for example, if they’re buying sunglasses, they might also be in the market for a towel or a straw hat). Try to choose a product that fits with a certain lifestyle and opens you up to sell other related products once you’ve gotten your footing as an online retailer.